The proximate reason behind South Africa’s 2021 Riots looting unrest was the arrest of Former South African President Jacob Zuma.
However, the fundamental reason was the failure of Nelson Mandela’s Rainbow Nation Policy to uplift people from all Strata of South African Society since South African independence in 1994.
More reasons for the 2021 riots looting in South Africa can also be traced to South Africa’s reliance on Mass Consumerist Propaganda through Consumer Advertising which promotes the myth that a Middle Class lifestyle is attainable to every hardworking South African when in reality it is not due to the South African Government’s failure to address the Social and Economic inequalities it inherited from the former Apartheid State since South Africa became independent in 1994.
What Is A Nation?- The Nation As An Imagined Community
In order to understand the reasons behind the unrest during South Africa’s 2021 riots looting, its useful to consider what has Historically defined the concept of a ‘Nation’.
The ‘Imagined Community’ is a concept coined by Benedict Anderson to analyze Nationalism. Anderson depicts a ‘Nation’ as a socially constructed community, imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group.
A Nation is therefore at its core primarily about a perceived State of shared Common Consciousness.
South Africa as a Rainbow Nation can be considered as the kind of Imagined Community Anderson contemplated.
Handed the unenviable task of healing the fissures created by a ruthless Apartheid State, Nelson Mandela’s Rainbow Nation was a gallant response to the challenges faced by a young Post-Independence South Africa.
More than 20 years later however, the Rainbow Nation’s score card is low in critical Socio-Economic areas while an increase in Corruption and a global Economic decline have all put stress on the Rainbow Nation as an Imagined Community.
These underlying Socio-Economic disparities was one of the main reasons for the 2021 riots looting unrest in South Africa.
South African Consumer Advertising As Propaganda
The other reason for South Africa’s 2021 riots looting unrest is the use of Mass Media Consumerist Propaganda.
From NAZI films like Triumph Of The Will, to America’s 1950s Consumer Advertising Revolution, Mass Media has been used by Governments to propagate and entrench the desired National Ethos within the Imagined Community through the overt or subliminal messages in Films and Advertising since World War 1.
In the case of South Africa, Middle-Class targeted advertising promoting everything from Cars to Fast Foods have sustained the idea of an all Inclusive Rainbow Nation.
There appears to be a concerted effort to sweep disappointments in Transformation, Governance and the Economy under the rug through a continuous barrage of Rainbow Nation lifestyle adverts.
Whether Consciously or Unconsciously, South African Consumer Advertising has become the Propaganda by which the Rainbow Nation illusion was streamed.
Indeed, regardless of their real situation people in South Africa can for brief moments live inside the Rainbow Nation during the course of an advert only to be brought back to their actual Reality when the advert is over. The barrage of adverts ensures that people are continually Teleported into the Rainbow Nation despite their exclusion in real Space and Time.
It literally requires more Advertisements to insert the Viewers into yet another Rainbow Nation Experience.
In this respect, South Africa may also provide a modern study in the use of advanced Mass Propaganda in the context of the Contemporary Post-Colonial African State.
Thus, one of the main reasons the 2021 riots looting unrest happened in South Africa is because the Mass Media spell can no longer mask the realities of continued post-Apartheid inequality within South Africa.
South Africa’s 2021 Riots Looting Unrest: From Propaganda To Violence
As it has become clearer that the outcome of the struggle against Apartheid was to benefit a minority Black Elite who mistook the admission of Black people into Middle Class Consumer Society as Liberation, the fundamental reason for South Africa’s 2021 riots looting unrest was the failure of the current wave of South African Consumer Propaganda to mitigate the social challenges and Economic distress of the majority of the population.
The imprisonment of Former South African President Jacob Zuma as the proximate reason for the 2021 riots unrest in South Africa shows that Zuma’s arrest triggered a festering wound that can no longer be safely dressed in the bandages of Rainbow Nation Consumerist Aspirational Propaganda because the lifestyle it portrays is simply not within the reach of the majority.
We may be witnessing the collapse of South Africa as a collective Imagined Community bound together by the Rainbow Nation on a steady diet of aspirational Propaganda which may have now become stale.
The lessons to be learnt from the 2021 South African riots looting unrest can be useful in understanding the Propaganda techniques employed by other Post-Colonial African States and in the world at large.
In A History Of Advertising, the Propaganda role of Consumer Advertising beginning in 1950s America is explored, and it helps to explain the link between Consumer Propaganda and the reasons for the 2021 looting riots unrest in South Africa which have now been compounded by an Immigration Crisis.